September 19, 2021

The bill on terrorism and intelligence adopted at first reading in the National Assembly

Two days of debate instead of three. The National Assembly adopted, Wednesday evening, June 2, in first reading and in accelerated procedure the bill relating to the prevention of acts of terrorism and intelligence.

The text was adopted, unsurprisingly, by 87 votes to ten and four abstentions. The version of the bill voted by the deputies is that which the government had presented, modified at the margin during its passage in committee of the laws. Almost all of the opposition’s amendments were rejected during the public session discussion.

A motley blend

The text, announced in the wake of the Rambouillet attack – in which a police officer was murdered with a knife in the entrance hall of the police station by a radicalized individual unknown to the police services – on April 23, 2021, is a heterogeneous assemblage: on the one hand, the perpetuation and strengthening of contested measures inspired by the state of emergency, including individual measures of administrative control and surveillance (the Micas) of persons convicted of terrorism and having served their sentence; on the other, the perpetuation of experimental devices for monitoring by algorithm of connection data (telephone and Internet) and their extension to URLs (domain names) on the Internet. This last part represents the intelligence part of the bill.

Throughout the debates, the shadow of the Constitutional Council weighed on the Assembly. First, because a law passed in 2020 on the Micas had been censured by the Sages because of the disproportion of post-prison follow-up measures and the government wishes at all costs to avoid a new legal snub. But also because the current devices expire on 1is August and that a new censorship would create a real legal vacuum in the follow-up of those leaving prison from that date. Hence the accelerated procedure. From where a hard text but weighed with the trebuchet.

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Faced with a particularly shifting terrorist threat, that of those coming out of prisons, more and more numerous in the years to come, and that of the “lone wolves” autoradicalized on the Internet, the executive is seeking to acquire new means in a race. endless pursuit. While announcing from the outset to vote the text, the right-wing opposition has continued to outbid by proposing to toughen all the proposed measures, up to caricature.

But it was not so much the National Rally, absent throughout the debates, as the deputy (Les Républicains, LR) of the Alpes-Maritimes Eric Ciotti who put the government under pressure. Whether it is on the closure of places of worship, on the duration of the Micas, on the public to which they apply or on the security perimeters, prohibited to individuals considered dangerous, he has never been lacking in inventiveness.

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